All glory is celestial glory. What other glory could it be?1 All light and truth emanates from one Source--the divine, celestial Tree.
Though the scriptures speak of three different degrees of glory--telestial, terrestrial, and celestial--the ultimate source of all power and glory is God, our Heavenly Father.
The stars, moon, and sun typify the three degrees of glory. Why? Because to us, from our vantage point on earth, they are seen as different intensities of light. The stars at night are small pinpoints of light, varying in brilliance. The moon is much more visible, and is seen in different phases of illumination, waxing and waning. The sun is resplendent above all, and its presence causes the lesser lights to disappear in its fiery wake.
Is what we see shining from the heavenly orbs three different kinds of light? No, it is all one kind of light, of one essence, from one eternal Entity.
“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space--The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.”2
Speaking of the power of God, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it.”3 Whether that priesthood is designated as Levitical, Aaronic, or Melchizedek,4 it is all the same--Melchizedek Priesthood. The “lesser priesthood” is given to prepare us for the “greater priesthood”--though it is really all one “Holy Priesthood”--with the single, fixed purpose to guide us to that glorious day when we shall “see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”5
Here, then, is a key to understanding the three degrees of glory: telestial and terrestrial glory are grades of celestial glory. As the Aaronic (or Levitical) Priesthood is an appendage of and indivisible from the Melchizedek Priesthood,6 so likewise the degrees of glory are not disconnected emanations from eternally divided domains.7 For denizens of the lesser degrees, their portions of celestial glory are merely preparatory to receiving a fulness of that same glory,8 even eternal life and exaltation in the overarching kingdom of God.
One kingdom, one glory. One, yet three. Shades of splendor from one flaming Tree.
1. Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “What other authority could it be?” From his April 2014 General Conference address, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.”
2. D&C 88:12-13.
3. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 180.
4. D&C 107:1.
5. D&C 84:17-26.
6. D&C 107:4-6, 13-14.
7. Matt. 6:13. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” Italics added.
8. D&C 88:30-31.